Journey Through Mirkwood
Avg: 2 from 3 votes
|Type:||Trad, 2000 ft, Grade V|
|FA:||Tom Pulaski, Jim Newberry, John Rosholt, and John Pearson, 1976 FFA : Jon Copp and Robbie Williams, Aug. 2001|
|Page Views:||3,597 total · 18/month|
|Shared By:||Brad Bond on Feb 28, 2002|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac|
DescriptionThis is not an everybody route! The one-star rating is given for the fact that it is a free route that goes up the Painted Wall and makes for a pretty fun adventure -- so long as you don't mind yarding on loose blocks and chossing your way up prickerbush-filled corners for 2000 feet.
The route is mostly 5.8 and 5.9, interspersed with some easier scrambling and two back-to-back crux pitches midway up. While these cruxes go a little slow, the rest of the route can be climbed pretty fast, enabling an efficient team to blast the thing in an easy day if all goes well.
Comparing Journey Through Mirkwood to the Southern Arete, I would say that the cruxes on Mirkwood are harder, but the route overall is not as sustained or enjoyable as the Southern Arete. Therefore, I would say that this is a good route for someone who has done the Southern Arete and wants to do another Painted Wall free route, but isn't psyched to step up to the runnouts on Stratosfear or the Serpent.
The route (reference p.86 of the guidebook):
Start in the same corner system above the river as for Southern Arete, Stratosfear, etc. and climb a few easy pitches to the large meadow 300 feet up the wall.
Walk halfway across the meadow and look for a nice, slightly left-angling crack going up the slab. This is a fun, 200' pitch that ends on a large ledge. Walk down the ledge past fixed pins and bolts to its right side and set up a belay below a broken, right-leaning crack. The topo show two variations for pitch 5, but we just climbed up and right via the path of least resistance -- about 10a on good rock with ok pro. After about 40 feet, the climbing gets easier and lands you in another large meadow and a nice view of the large Forest-Walker corner system above. Here we untied, and 3rd classed up and left across the meadow.
We stayed unroped for the 5.7 chimney (pitch 6), which has a crux thrash through an enormous prickerbush, and the 5.6 pitch leading to the first 5.11 pitch.
Pitch 8. The topo shows this corner as being right-facing, but it actually faces to the left. At any rate, the feature is obvious from below. Climb up the corner, chossy 5.9 at first, and then crank into a 5.11 layback, and reach out right to the creaky "chopper flake" and mantle onto a pedestal and no-hands rest. Follow the line straight up through a flare and roof (10+) to a small ledge below the mighty "Roofs of Mordor."
Pitch 9, the crux. Climb up to the roof. The aid line goes straight up past fixed gear, so step out right and crank up to too good jugs and jams until above the overhang, then sidestep back left to the main line and belay above the roof. This is an awesome feature that looks like 5.13 from below and was rated .12a on the FFA, but there are no moves on it harder than 11a/b (I'm not saying it isn't hard; it's VERY hard, but not .12a). There is a creaky block in the middle of the roof - take care while jamming past this thing.
Pitch 10. Now look up for the peg corner mentioned on the topo. Zigzag your way up to it (5.8/9 R) and belay at a good ledge next to the Hanoi Hilton bivy and a brand new 3/8" bolt.
From the bivy ledge, angle up and right to the enormous, left-facing corner system the leads past the "Horseshoe Overhang" and to the summit. We lost our place on the topo here, but if you stay in the large corner (5.8/9 with lots of bushes and chosswidths) and follow it until it spits you out left about 200' below the summit, you'll be fine.